Eric Cantor vows fierce protection of school choice

Jan 9, 2014 by

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor vowed Wednesday to protect and promote school choice programs and attacked Democratic politicians, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for seeking to block the growth of charter schools and voucher programs.

Long an advocate of school choice, Cantor used a speech at the Brookings Institution to vow that Republicans would defend what he called an “education revolution” that has shifted power away from traditional public schools and put it in the hands of parents. Many states now allow parents to get tax-funded vouchers to send their children to private or parochial schools or chose from an array of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. “Right now, school choice is under attack,” Cantor said. “It is up to us in this room and our allies across the nation to work for and fight for the families and students who will suffer the consequences if school choice is taken away.”

Cantor cited de Blasio’s campaign promise to charge rent to the wealthiest charter schools, some of which receive millions in private donations along with public education funds.

Under the Bloomberg administration, charters were permitted to set up shop for free in existing district schools; they often took over several floors in buildings that were not being used to maximum capacity. That policy, known as co-location, helped the number of charters soar from fewer than 20 to more than 180 during the Bloomberg administration, but it also caused significant tension among students, parents and school administrators. De Blasio pledged during the campaign that he would consider a moratorium on co-locations.

In practice, of course, Congress has little leverage over New York City education policy. Yet Cantor vowed to try to block any rollback in support for charter schools. “Our committees in the House will remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure no one from the government stands in the school house door between any child and a good education,” he said. De Blasio’s policies, he said, “could devastate the growth of education opportunity” and take choice away from countless families in New York City.

De Blasio fired back, calling the Republican agenda “a dangerous philosophy that turns its back on public education” and that has failed “many times before.”

via Eric Cantor vows fierce protection of school choice – Stephanie Simon and Maggie Severns – POLITICO.com.

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